What Is a Chief Happiness Officer? New Job Titles on the Rise in Hybrid Workplaces

24 Feb 2022

It's a brand new world out there. The hybrid workplace has changed not only how (and where) people work, but it has also skyrocketed the popularity of company roles that would've raised eyebrows just a few short years ago. The rise of the Chief Happiness Officer (or Director of Remote Work or Head of Future of Work) is a direct correlation to the changes we've all experienced over the last couple of years.

It all makes a whole lot of sense.

Here's why (and why you too might want to consider hiring a person to take your business into the new era).

Times, They Are A Changin'

...Said Bob Dylan in the 1960s.

Times, they still change. More so, they change faster than ever. Before 2020, remote work was a luxury meant for the select few: freelancers, consultants, and lucky employees who worked for companies that had a remote work policy. Everyone else had to go through the ordeal of waking up two hours too early, commute, and show themselves in an office.

In just a couple of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed everyone into remote work. And as the world slowly started to open back up again, many businesses decided to either embrace "remote forever" OR go hybrid.

The gates of a new world opened and digital transformation was unleashed. 

What Does That Mean, More Exactly?

The "not-so-new-anymore normal" extends far beyond the whereabouts of work. Yes, remote and hybrid work are the very beating soul of the new world. Beyond that, however, this had ramifications most could have not foreseen before 2020.

The role of the Facility Manager was upgraded. The role of the office space changed. The role of what we do at work, day to day, shifted towards new routines, new means of communication, new arrangements.

It's only natural that, with so many changes, new job roles would appear as well.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Happiness Officer -- the person who shoulders the joy, satisfaction, and happiness of the employees in a company. Also, the person who doesn't play games, but creates well-being.

What Is a Chief Happiness Officer?

A Chief Happiness Officer is a professional who is responsible for the happiness of employees in a company. They usually report to the CEO or founder and are in charge of creating and implementing programs that aim to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and overall well-being.

The CHO usually has a background in psychology, Human Resources, or organizational development. They work with teams to identify areas of improvement and develop strategies to address them.

While more recently, the role of a Happiness Officer and that of a Director of Remote Work (or Head of Future of Work) have started to overlap, it is important to mention they are now always one and the same.

A Director of Remote Work is a professional who oversees all things remote work. They make sure employees are productive and comfortable when working remotely. They also develop policies and procedures for remote work, and ensure that the company's culture and values are upheld when employees are not in the office.

The Head of Future of Work is a professional who helps the organization prepare for and embrace the future of work. They anticipate and plan for changes in the workforce and identify opportunities and challenges that come with them.

All of these new job titles are a direct response to the new world we live in, where remote and hybrid work have become the norm. While the job descriptions of these new roles may sometimes overlap, it is still essential for you to be aware of the fact that a "Happiness Manager" was not always considered to be the same as a Director of Remote Work.

Furthermore, the role of a Chief Happiness Officer is actually a little older than that of a Director of Remote Work, as there was no visible need for the latter until not very long ago.

These days, however, companies that want to embrace the future at its full power will consider hiring at least one of these "new" roles to make sure their businesses are fully aligned with what comes next.

What Does a Chief Happiness Officer Do?

OK, we now understand what a CHO is -- but what is it that they actually do on a day to day basis?

Well, some of the "tasks" associated with Chief Happiness Officers include the following:

  • Creating and implementing programs that aim to improve employee satisfaction, motivation, and overall well-being.
  • Working with teams to identify areas of improvement and developing strategies to address them.
  • Coaching managers on how to be effective leaders and create a positive work environment.
  • Developing communications strategies that will engage employees and encourage them to give their best.
  • Training employees on how to deal with stress and navigate difficult conversations.
  • Creating and delivering workshops on a variety of topics such as gratitude, mindfulness, and positive psychology.
  • Compiling employee feedback and using it to improve the company culture.
  • Basically, what a CHO does is try to create an environment that makes people genuinely happy to work with a certain company.

On the other hand (to continue the comparison started in the previous section of this article), a Director of Remote Work's attributions will include things like:

  • Ensuring employees are productive and comfortable when working remotely.
  • Developing policies and procedures for remote work, and ensuring that the company's culture and values are upheld when employees are not in the office.
  • Coordinating with other departments to make sure all aspects of working remotely run smoothly.
  • Evaluating remote work programs and making changes/adjustments as necessary.
  • Basically, what a Director of Remote Work does is make sure everything related to remote work runs smoothly. This may include anything from managing employee productivity to ensuring the company's culture is upheld when employees are not in the office.

Both roles are extremely important in today's world, and it's important that you are familiar with the differences between them. Knowing who does what in your organization can help avoid any confusion or miscommunication down the line.

The rise of new job roles like the chief happiness officer, director of remote work, and other new job titles in hybrid workplaces is a direct response to the new world we live in,

What Is the Role of the HR Department in a Hybrid Work Environment?

The role of the HR department has always been relatively clear. In the new, hybrid work environment and paradigm, however, the role of the HR pro has changed (and quite considerably so).

More specifically, the role of a Human Resources department and/or professional in the hybrid world includes things like:

  • Ensuring that remote employees are productive and comfortable.
  • Developing policies and procedures for remote work, and ensuring that the company's culture and values are upheld when employees are not in the office.
  • Coordinating internally to ensure the smooth operation of a remote workforce.
  • Providing support to employees (including thise who are working remotely).
  • Serving as a mediator in employee conflicts that may arise from the remote work arrangement.
  • Making sure the list of employee benefits are fully aligned with current trends
  • Conducting employee satisfaction surveys
  • Making sure employees are legally compensated for their work (and that their paperwork is all in order)
  • Drawing attention to members of the leadership team when, for example, employees in a specific team do not take vacation days.
  • Conducting recruitment campaigns when necessary.
  • Conducting employment branding campaigns.

...And so on. Of course, HR's role in a business is of great importance. Moreover, the role of an HR pro can also sometimes overlap with that of a Director of Remote Work and that of a CHO. This is not necessarily desirable because it can lead to HR pros de-focusing from the main aspect of their roles (compliance, legality, employee satisfaction, benefit packages, and so on) to focus on things others might be more specialized in.

What Is the Purpose of a Facility Manager?

As mentioned before, the role of a Facility Manager has definitely changed a lot as well. Before the wave of changes that started in 2020, a Facility Manager's main goal was that of making sure everything in an office is properly functional and efficient.

Today, the Facility Manager sits at the leadership table and helps with business decisions that could potentially impact all the employees.

Some of the things a Facility Manager does in a hybrid workplace include:

  • Making sure the office is physically appealing and comfortable for employees
  • Ensuring that all office equipment is working properly and that supplies are always stocked
  • Coordinating with other departments to make sure all aspects of the office (including virtual offices) are running smoothly
  • Making suggestions to leadership about the office layout and furniture
  • Monitoring employee productivity and providing feedback to management
  • Recommending changes to working policies based on observations made while managing the office environment

...And so on. The Facility Manager is a very important member of the team in a hybrid workplace, and their role should not be taken lightly. Even more, as you can see from the description above, the role of a FM can also overlap with that of a Happiness Officer or Remote Work Manager.

So, Where Do We Go From Here?

Hiring Chief Happiness Officers and Directors of Remote Work is more than just a fad. These roles are here to stay, particularly since the world will most likely never return to its pre-COVID status quo.

You DO need a CHO because you need:

  • Happy, productive employees.
  • Employer branding programs that actually work.
  • A person who can help with compliance and legality issues.
  • Someone to keep an eye on employee expectations, satisfaction and benefits.
  • A specialist to help you respond to workplace changes.

And while Human Resources or Facility Management personnel could easily fill in the shoes of a CHO or Remote Work Manager, it is still important for you to have dedicated people for these specific sets of tasks.

The fact is, as the world becomes more and more complex, businesses will need to start relying on a variety of different job titles in order to be successful. So don't be afraid to experiment and try out new things in your workplace!

Topics: Office of the future, Human resources

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